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Class of 2017: Economics Scholar Has a ‘Nobel Legacy’ in Physics

Published April 28, 2017 in News

By: Katie McNally | University Communications

For a while, it seemed like fourth-year Clement Bohr was headed for the family business. The descendant of Nobel Prize winners and noted physicists Niels and Aage Bohr, the young Bohr started out following in the academic footsteps of his great-grandfather and great uncle but soon found a new passion at the University of Virginia.

At the beginning of his third-year, Bohr decided to change his major from physics to economics, and began working tirelessly on a path that would allow him to one day earn a Ph.D. in the subject.

“I realized that I didn’t like physics that much after all, and the one part I did really like – general relativity – is similar in some ways to my favorite part of economics,” said Bohr. “Essentially, general relativity describes how the whole universe works. It looks at the bigger picture, and that’s what you do in macroeconomics. I like subdivisions of macroeconomics that allow you to create models and try to figure out how everything works together.”

Bohr plans to continue looking at the bigger picture after graduation. He’s recently been accepted as a doctoral student in economics at Northwestern University and is interested in studying international trade and the theories behind large-scale economic forces.

“I don’t know what I want to do yet but one thing that’s really nice about a Ph.D. in economics is that it does have a lot of different career paths,” he said. “I think it would be fun to work at the World Bank or the International Monetary Fund. But the eventual hope is to get a top-notch academic appointment.”

The global focus is fitting for a student who has roots on both sides of the Atlantic. Like his famous relatives, Bohr is originally from Denmark but his mother is American so he grew up as a part of both cultures, and chose to attend high school in the United States.

Once at UVA, Bohr expanded on his bilingual upbringing by pursuing a minor in French. He’s also been busy with a variety of volunteer activities throughout his time on Grounds. Bohr has served the Charlottesville community as a Madison House youth soccer coach, helped care for dogs at the Charlottesville-Albemarle SPCA and raised money for cancer research as the philanthropy chair of his fraternity, Phi Gamma Delta.

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